30 November 2023

Louis Eksteen

Navigating towards a next frontier

The recent disruptive, management, board and shareholder upheavals at leading generative artificial intelligence firm OpenAI has focused the technology world’s attention firmly on its next frontier, the search for systems with artificial general intelligence (AGI). According to an analysis created by The Economist, this has divided the AI cognoscenti into two basic camps. Doomers “believe that, left unchecked, AI poses an existential risk to humanity and hence advocate stricter regulation”, while boomers “play down fears of an AI apocalypse and stress its potential to turbocharge progress”.

Mark me down in the boomer camp, without a doubt. I personally believe generative AI now and AGI soon, are massively beneficial to humanity and will result in incredible feats hereto unthinkable. There are dangers too, sure, but so is crossing the street hazardous. While regulation is wise, this should not hamper progress and it’s good these tools are created as commercially viable utilities. Market forces will thus determine which will become practically useful, as ChatGPT has demonstrated for generative AI.

One step towards useable AGI is rumoured to be OpenAI’s mysterious system called Q* (Q Star).  According to Fast Company: “Some speculate the new AI system may be a major step toward artificial general intelligence. Safety concerns around the system may have led to the firing of Sam Altman.” So, there’s clearly a lot going on in this rapidly developing high-tech arena.

As a leading-edge concept, AGI represents the evolution of artificial intelligence to a point where machines can understand, learn and apply knowledge just like a human being. So, let’s try to demystify AGI and explore what it means for us.

What is AGI?

At its core, AGI is an advanced form of AI. While current AI systems excel at specific tasks, AGI aims to achieve a broader, human-like understanding and reasoning ability. Imagine a machine that can compose a symphony, solve a complex environmental problem and then engage in a meaningful conversation about politics – all in one go. That’s the potential of AGI.

Practical benefits

The journey towards AGI is filled with promise. In healthcare, AGI could lead to breakthroughs in personalised medicine, offering treatments tailored to individual genetic profiles. In environmental science, it could model complex climate systems, providing critical insights for sustainable living. 

In everyday life, AGI could transform mundane tasks, such as cooking and driving, into automated, efficient processes.

Rapid advancements and pitfalls

The field of generative AI, similarly the generative technology that creates realistic images or text, took years to develop but seemed to revolutionise the tech world overnight. AGI might follow a similar path – years of incremental progress leading to a sudden, transformative leap.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. As we edge closer to AGI, ethical considerations around privacy, security and the societal impact of highly intelligent machines must be at the forefront of development.

When will AGI arrive?

Predicting the arrival of AGI is challenging. Some experts believe it could be a few decades away, while others see it as a more distant future. The key is to focus on the journey, not just the destination. Each step brings new discoveries and opportunities for growth.


Artificial general intelligence represents the next frontier in tech development. It’s an exciting journey, one that holds immense potential to reshape our world. I reckon we should embrace AGI fully, but navigate this path with managed curiosity, caution and a shared vision for a better future. Holding thumbs and fingers crossed.